Let’s Keep Kids Safe Around Water!

water safetyKids love the water, whether it is the bathtub, the backyard pool, a river, lake or ocean. But, keeping children safe around water during the summer especially takes all our concentration.

What follows are prevention tips from the Centers for Disease Control.

Learn life-saving skills.  Everyone should know the basics of swimming (floating, moving through the water) and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Fence it off. Install a four–sided isolation fence, with self–closing and self–latching gates, around backyard swimming pools. This can help keep children away from the area when they aren’t supposed to be swimming. Pool fences should completely separate the house and play area from the pool.

Make life jackets a “must.” Make sure kids wear life jackets in and around natural bodies of water, such as lakes or the ocean, even if they know how to swim. Life jackets can be used in and around pools for weaker swimmers too.

Be on the lookout. When kids are in or near water (including bathtubs), closely supervise them at all times. Adults watching kids in or near water should avoid distracting activities like playing cards, reading books, talking on the phone, and using alcohol or drugs.

Here are some other resources on water safety.

The Red Cross offers a Water Safety Quiz http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/water-safety/quiz

waduing Pool Safety for Parents: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/pools/wadplsftprnt.html

For more water safety resources and fun activities, visit:

 

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Water Safety Tips

The  following water safety tips come from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Never leave children alone in or near the pool or spa, even for a moment.
  • Whenever infants or toddlers are in or around water, an adult – preferably one who knows how to swim and perform CPR – should be within arm’s length, providing “touch supervision.”
  • Install a fence at least 4 feet high around all four sides of the pool. The fence should not have openings or protrusions that a young child could use to get over, under, or through.
  • Make sure pool gates open out from the pool, and self-close and self-latch at a height children can’t reach. Consider alarms on the gate to alert you when someone opens the gate.
  • If the house serves as the fourth side of a fence surrounding a pool, install an alarm on the exit door to the yard and the pool. For additional protection, install window guards on windows facing the pool. Drowning victims have also used pet doors to gain access to pools. Keep all of your barriers and alarms in good repair with fresh batteries.
  • Keep rescue equipment (a shepherd’s hook — a long pole with a hook on the end — and life preserver) and a portable telephone near the pool. Choose a shepherd’s hook and other rescue equipment made of fiberglass or other materials that do not conduct electricity.
  • Avoid inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties.” They are not a substitute for approved life vests and can give children and parents a false sense of security.
  • Children ages 1 to 4 may be at a lower risk of drowning if they have had some formal swimming instruction. However, there is no evidence that swimming lessons or water survival skills courses can prevent drowning in babies younger than 1 year of age.
  • The decision to enroll a 1- to 4-year-old child in swimming lessons should be made by the parent and based on the child’s developmental readiness, but swim programs should never be seen as “drown proofing” a child of any age.
  • Avoid entrapment: Suction from pool and spa drains can trap a swimmer underwater. Do not use a pool or spa if there are broken or missing drain covers. Ask your pool operator if your pool or spa’s drains are compliant with the Pool and Spa Safety Act. If you have a swimming pool or spa, ask your pool service representative to update your drains and other suction fitting with anti-entrapment drain covers and other devices or systems. See PoolSafely.gov for more information on the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.
  • Large, inflatable, above-ground pools have become increasingly popular for backyard use. Children may fall in if they lean against the soft side of an inflatable pool. Although such pools are often exempt from local pool fencing requirements, it is essential that they be surrounded by an appropriate fence just as a permanent pool would be so that children cannot gain unsupervised access.
  • If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool or spa first.
  • Share safety instructions with family, friends and neighbors.

Boating Safety

  • Children should wear life jackets at all times when on boats or near bodies of water.

  • Make sure the life jacket is the right size for your child. The jacket should not be loose. It should always be worn as instructed with all straps belted.
  • Blow-up water wings, toys, rafts and air mattresses should not be used as life jackets or personal flotation devices. Adults should wear life jackets for their own protection, and to set a good example.
  • Adolescents and adults should be warned of the dangers of boating when under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and even some prescription medications.

Open Water Swimming

  • Never swim alone. Even good swimmers need buddies!
  • A lifeguard (or another adult who knows about water rescue) needs to be watching children whenever they are in or near the water. Younger children should be closely supervised while in or near the water – use “touch supervision,” keeping no more than an arm’s length away.
  • Make sure your child knows never to dive into water except when permitted by an adult who knows the depth of the water and who has checked for underwater objects.
  • Never let your child swim in canals or any fast moving water.
  • Ocean swimming should only be allowed when a lifeguard is on duty.
  • Teach children about rip tides. If you are caught in a rip tide, swim parallel to shore until you escape the current, and then swim back to shore.

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Water Play and Child Safety

boy near waterFew things are as much fun for young children as water play.

Few things require the constant, undivided attention of parents and other adults as children playing in water whether it is in a backyard pool or public pool, a lake, the ocean, or even the home bathtub.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) water is one of the most ominous hazards your child will encounter. Young children can drown in only a few inches of water.

The AAP used to advise against swimming lessons for children ages 1 to 3 because there was little evidence that lessons prevented drowning or resulted in better swim skills, and there was concern parents would become less vigilant about supervising a child who had learned some swimming skills.  In light of new evidence showing  that children ages 1 to 4 may be less likely to drown if they have had formal swimming instruction, the AAP has changed its position and now recommends that parents should decide whether to enroll an individual child in swim lessons based on the child’s frequency of exposure to water, emotional development, physical abilities, and certain health conditions related to pool water infections and pool chemicals.

The AAP suggests following these rules when your child is near water:

  1. Be aware of small bodies of water your child might encounter, such as bathtubs, fishponds, ditches, fountains, rain barrels, watering cans—even the bucket you use when you wash the car. Empty containers of water when you’re done using them. Children are drawn to places and things like these and need constant supervision to be sure they don’t fall in.
  2. Children who are swimming—even in a shallow toddler’s pool—always should be watched by an adult, preferably one who knows CPR. The adult should be within arm’s length, providing “touch supervision” whenever infants, toddlers, or young children are in or around water. Empty and put away inflatable pools after each play session.
  3. Enforce safety rules: No running near the pool and no pushing others underwater.
  4. Don’t allow your child to use inflatable toys or mattresses in place of a life jacket. These toys may deflate suddenly, or your child may slip off them into water that is too deep for him.
  5. Be sure the deep and shallow ends of any pool your child swims in are clearly marked. Never allow your child to dive into the shallow end.
  6. Backyard swimming pools, (including large, inflatable above-ground pools), should be completely surrounded with at least a 4-foot (1.2 meters) high fence that completely separates the pool from the house. The fence should have a self-closing and self-latching gate that opens away from the pool, with the latch at least 54 inches high. Check the gate frequently to be sure it is in good working order. Keep the gate closed and locked at all times. Be sure your child cannot manipulate the lock or climb the fence. No opening under the fence or between uprights should be more than 4 inches (10 cm) wide. Keep toys out of the pool area when not in use so that children are not tempted to try to get through the fence.
  7. If your pool has a cover, remove it completely before swimming. Also, never allow your child to walk on the pool cover; water may have accumulated on it, making it as dangerous as the pool itself. Your child also could fall through and become trapped underneath. Do not use a pool cover in place of a four-sided fence because it is not likely to be used appropriately and consistently.
  8. Keep a safety ring with a rope beside the pool at all times. If possible, have a phone in the pool area with emergency numbers clearly marked.
  9. Spas and hot tubs are dangerous for young children, who can easily drown or become overheated in them. Don’t allow young children to use these facilities.
  10. Your child should always wear a life jacket when he swims or rides in a boat. A life jacket fits properly if you can’t lift it off over your child’s head after he’s been fastened into it. For the child under age five, particularly the non swimmer, it also should have a flotation collar to keep the head upright and the face out of the water.
  11. Adults should not drink alcohol when they are swimming. It presents a danger for them as well as for any children they might be supervising.
  12. Be sure to eliminate distractions while children are in the water. Talking on the phone, working on the computer, and other tasks need to wait until children are out of the water.
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Choosing a Summer Day Camp for Kids 3-7

 campFor parents who are new to picking a camp, I would like to share what I know about providing a safe, enjoyable summer camp experience.

I ran a community day camp for several years. In addition to knowing how your child will be spending his or her time at camp, the following list includes other things that you will want to consider when picking out a day camp.

  • Transportation Personnel -Who are they? What is their background?  Our camp policy was to have a staff person ride in each of the vehicles for the first two weeks of camp to insure that the drivers were responsible and that they had patience with the children. Given the age of the children, we expected the transportation company to provide an attendant to ride in each bus.
  • Water Personnel – Are swim instructors, life guards and counselors who accompany the children in water activities trained in water safety? Have they passed first aid training including resuscitation?
  • Group Leaders -Are they teachers, recreation personnel or other  mature adults with specialties in arts and crafts, music or other specialties such as cooking,  sports, dance?
  • Counselors – Are they trained in first aid including CPR? Do they have experience with young children?
  • Does the camp do a background check on all personnel?
  • Is their an orientation/training  for staff prior to the camp opening for the season? What is covered in this training?
  • Is there a day when families can visit and see what the children are doing? Can the view a play or a skit or a music/dance demonstration?
  • If children must bring their lunches, how are they kept cool? If the camp provides lunch and snacks, what do they provide?
  • Are play areas, toys, jungle gyms, etc clean and in good condition?
  • Is there a nurse on staff?
  • What is the policy when a child is injured or gets sick?
  • If the camp has outdoor space, is it fenced in?
  • Is the ration of staff to children 1 to 4 or 5?
  • Does the camp have a favorable listing with the American Camping Association or KidsCamps.com?

It is hard enough to send our little ones off on a camp bus for the first time. Parents need the peace of mind of knowing that the camp their child is going to is a safe, secure, clean place for summer fun.

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